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How do I support my child’s learning at home?

It’s natural to be a bit worried about how you’ll manage if your child has to to learn from home again. But don’t forget, you’re not alone. Now that schools have reopened, most children will be in school full time, but learning at home might be needed if your area goes into local lockdown or if there is an outbreak in your school. If this happens your school will be in touch with you to let you know. 

Take things one day at a time and be kind to yourself. No one is expecting you to be a teacher – you’re already doing the most important job of all.

Where do I even start?

First things first, remember to look after yourself, if you’re feeling less stressed then it’s easier to manage certain situations. You can find helpful advice for keeping calm on our page of mental health advice for parents during coronavirus and our pages about managing the challenges of parenting.

Does my child need to learn from home again?

That depends where you live. Most children are expected to be in school full time again. Schools will only introduce learning from home if it’s really necessary and health and safety guidance changes – for example if there are local restrictions in response to a coronavirus outbreak. Plans may be different across schools and local councils. You can find out more by checking out our guide on home and blended learning.

Am I expected to homeschool my child?

Absolutely not. After the last few months, we know this may be a very daunting thought. It's just about doing your best to support your child with the work their schools give them. This is very different from homeschooling, where a parent is entirely responsible for their child’s education.

What should I focus on if they have to learn from home?

The most important thing you could do for your children is support them to settle back into home learning. But this doesn’t mean needing to go through their school work all the time. 
The best way you can support your child is to set aside some time to talk to them about their schoolwork, and to have some fun! Below are some tips to help with this, and links to further resources that might help you.

How do I get them to do schoolwork when they refuse?

If trying to get your child to do schoolwork leads to arguments and tension, take a break. Go and have some fun for a while. You can always come back to it later on once everyone is feeling more calm.

No matter what age your child is, don’t worry spending time together is one of the best ways to support your child.

Tips if you have younger children

Start small. If you have a young child, the best thing you can do is play together. Read stories, sing songs, dance around and have fun. We’ve got fun family games to play indoors, ideas for ball games, ideas to keep children entertained in the kitchen and tips for making bathtime fun.

Let them take the lead and see what fun you can have. You could even ask them to help you make lunch and snacks or sort the washing – our page on getting the kids to help around the house has more ideas.

Tips if you have older children

If your children are older, their school will send work to be completed at home, as well as extra materials. Try not to feel overwhelmed by this – it’s a good thing, as it means you won’t have to find resources yourself. If you have any questions, your child’s school will have ways to support you.

If your child finds it difficult to concentrate on work, that’s okay. Help them to take time out and find a way that works for you both. Our page on supporting your child’s learning has more tips to help them study at home. 

Your children might be feeling worried if they have to return to learning from home, and that’s understandable. If this happens, it’s best to focus on making sure they’re feeling happy rather than simply completing homework sheets. Why not talk to your child about the things that interest them? Often, just talking and listening is the best place to start! 

Tips if you have teenagers

Tips if you have more than one child

If you’ve got more than one child at different stages of learning, it can be tricky juggling these different priorities. We’ve put together some tips to try to help you and your family.

Tip #1: Think outside the box

If you can, try to think of activities that are suitable for a range of different age groups. Creative activities are particularly good for this, you could get them to put on a puppet show with their toys, or even make up a story about something they can see out the window. 

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Tip #2: Write a letter

You could ask your kids to write a letter or draw a picture for a family member and post it to them. This is an especially great idea if you have a family member who may be at home alone during this difficult time. A letter or picture from your kids may be just the pick me up they need! 

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Tip #3: Easy freezy activities

If you can, try to set up some activities for your little ones that they don’t need much help with, so you can dedicate some time to your older kids. One great example is to freeze some small plastic toys in a block of ice, then let them use plastic cutlery to chip away and dig for treasure – just make sure their ‘tools’ are suitable for kids!

There are more ideas like this on our things to do for toddlers and children pages.

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Tip #4: Help around the home

Now that you have some extra hands around the home, your yearly ‘spring clean’ could be a great family activity. If you can, why not task your kids with helping you with some housework. Or, get them involved in some home cooking with you by measuring out ingredients or reading instructions.

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Tip #5: Playing schools

If you have an older and a younger child, you could ask the older one to do some role playing and pretend to be a teacher. They could create some fun lessons for the younger ones to keep them busy throughout the day and you get to be the headteacher.

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Should I be worried about my child's education?

Keeping your child and your family safe, happy and healthy are the most important things parents and families should focus on if they have to learn from home.

But if your children aren't able to go to school or to their usual early learning setting, it’s totally understandable to be concerned that they might not be progressing in their learning as much as they should. The best thing you can do is not to put too much extra pressure on yourself and do what you need to do to get through the period. 

Should I worry about too much time spent playing?

These last few months have been difficult for all parents and we’ve all been doing our best, so please don’t feel guilty about letting your child play if they have to learn from home. Play is a really important part of life, particularly at difficult times, and is actually part of Scotland’s school curriculum.

Playing helps children and young people:

  • stay emotionally healthy
  • stay physically active
  • relax and forget about any worries
  • learn and make sense of new experiences and changes in their world
  • cope with feelings that are difficult or frightening

Play helps children become more creative, learn to solve problems and work out what they think and how to respond. So if you see them putting face masks on their teddies or building a hospital out of blocks, or returning to games they used to play when they were younger, this is just their way of coping with the situation. It’s also important for older children and adults too! 

The best thing you can do to support them with learning at home is to give your child enough time and space to play every day and be prepared to put up with a bit of noise and mess. Get outside for exercise with your child each day, no matter what the weather, as it’s important for their development. If your child sees that you’re happy they’re playing, they’ll enjoy it more.

No matter what age your child is, we have lots of play activity ideas that can help develop their skills, have fun and keep you fit and healthy as a family.

What if my child has additional support needs?

If your child has additional support needs, their school might put in place extra support to help your child with learning from home. It’s natural to be anxious about what will happen. Schools will always contact parents if there’s going to be a change, but if you’re concerned then do get in touch with them.

Need more help?

If you have to balance looking after your children with working from home, we’ve got some great tips from other parents here

You can find more tips for learning at home here.

If you need further learning resources to help get you started, check out our page here

Your child’s school would be in touch with advice and support on learning at home in the event they have to introduce it. For more information, you could get in touch with your child’s school. They’re here to help, and will make sure your child doesn’t miss out on learning, whatever might happen.

Being a parent is the best job in the world, but it can also be one of the most stressful. There will be days when it all feels a little too much. To help you manage the challenges ahead, Parent Club has some tips on coping with being a parent and keeping calm with your wee one so you can build a rewarding relationship together.

Gif of animated character getting frustrated

Gif of animated character getting frustrated